Buenos Aires, Daytona, Sebring: the World Sports Championship has reached its third round. After a 1000 km and a 6 Hours, which saw just as many Ferrari one-twos, it is up to this 12 Hours which takes place in the heart of Florida to establish whether the red 312-Ps from Maranello really have no opponents or whether Alfa Romeo with its 33-TT-3 still has some cards to play while waiting for the new engine and if the British manufacturers (Lola and Gulf-Mirage) have the opportunity to enter. Says Peter Schetty, Ferrari sporting director, always calm in his predictions and judgments:
"We have never participated with the 312-P in such a long competition. His behavior will be an unknown".
There are three cars, entrusted to the usual Ickx-Andretti. Regazzoni-Redman and Peterson-Schenken. Last week, a car came to Sebring for preliminary testing and Andretti set an excellent time of 2'30"0, a full 3 seconds less than poor Siffert's record lap in the 5-liter Porsche in 1971. All the Ferraris are fitted with a new type gearbox, the architecture of which allows for quicker gear changing. Two cooling air intakes have been opened on the rear bonnet. Engines with 450 HP at 10,500 rpm, weights from 670 to 680 kilograms (over (therefore, compared to the other races, it causes further strengthening work and the application of headlights). Alfa Romeo presents itself with four 33-TT-3s with tubular chassis. Crews Revson-Stommelen. Eltord-Marko. De Adamich-Galli and Vaccarella-Hezemans; these last two pairs are not definitive. Three cars present an innovation: the lowering of the water radiators. Which led to further modifications, such as the opening of a large air intake on the right side. bonnet has been lengthened by about fifteen centimeters. But engineer Carlo Chiti is quick to explain:
"These are just details. In the Milanese team everyone recognizes that the Ferraris are stronger. It's a matter of horses, we have 10 or 20 fewer".
The new single-cylinder engine will run on the dyno within a few days, but it will then take more than a month before seeing it in competition. Nobody talks about fire tanks anymore. Now, the weight of the 33-TT-3 is around 660 kilograms. Chiti concludes:
"We will try to make the most of the Ferraris. The race is long, and this could be a positive factor for us".
We will see the response to the first tests, in which Lola should also participate with a T-280 for Bonnier-Wisell-Larrousse and Gulf-Mlrage with Bell and Van Lennep. A new threat for Ferrari? Probably not, at least for now. The route winds inside Sebring airport. an airport now almost disused; full of aircraft falling apart. Around there are endless orange plantations and, two hours' drive away, Cape Kennedy, the new Disneyland and Cypress Garden with its water skiers. But, to be honest, the tourist beauties of Florida are relatively important to the pilots: they would like the track to be a billiard table but instead the asphalt is wrinkled and bumpy and, in the concrete part, the slabs are disjointed, with grass and dirt. cracks. The stresses on the cars are considerable. Says Mario Andretti, just arrived from Indianapolis, where he tested his new car to participate in the Indy 500:
"Every time my friends at Sebring promise to fix the circuit. Then I come, and everything is as before. Certain curves, for example, are delimited by concrete hemispheres: if you end up on them with a wheel it is very easy to break the rim".
Ronnie Peterson, the Swede from Ferrari, adds:
"It is argued that Spa is not a safe circuit. And this, then, with piles of sand at the exit of the curves? They look like stepping stones".
The protest, however, does not take on a harsh tone. Peterson, Schenken and Regazzoni, the three Ferrari drivers who have not had a bad run before at Sebring, will complete a greater number of laps than their colleagues. A champion performance is expected from Andretti to Ickx. Ferrari and Alfa Romeo have almost completed their preparations on the basis of the experiences gained in preliminary training last week. The first looks with a certain fear at the length of the race, the second hopes for twelve hours, both are eagerly awaiting to see the Gulf-Mirage in action. The car is a two-seater spider that closely resembles the Can-Am Cup cars. Designed by Len Bailey, it has a monocoque structure, an advanced driving position and a rear-mid engine with a gearbox behind the differential. On the rear there is a large wing. The weight is around 670 kilograms, the engine is a Formula 1 Ford-Cosworth. A beautiful car, which however could pay the usual novitiate price. Among other things, it was completed amidst a thousand difficulties, not least those caused by the lack of electricity in England due to the recent miners' strike. In fact, the Gulf-Mirage, with many engine cooling problems, did not emerge on this first day of testing. The same happened for the Lola. As was logical to assume, Andretti sets the best time with the 312-P. The German Stommelen follows. who promises to be Alfa Romeo's top man, as in other circumstances. Three accidents without consequences offer some suspense, two for the Alia Romeo and one for the Ferrari. Helmut Marko, perhaps due to a flat tire, ended up against a barrier and damaged the right side and the water radiator of his 33-TT-3. Nino Vaccarella is hit by a Porsche 911 T as he is about to take the big bend that leads onto the grandstand straight.
Andretti skids on a patch of figure eight at over 250 km/h, splashes into the grass at the edge of the track, and touches a warning sign located on a parallel section of the circuit. The nose of the 312-P will need to be replaced. Nonetheless, Ferrari's supremacy in the World Sports Championship is becoming pleasantly monotonous. Sunday 26 March 1972, also at Sebring; after the races in Buenos Aires and Daytona, the Maranello team achieved a double thanks to the victory of Ickx and Andretti, and the second place of Peterson and Schenken. In practice, the order of arrival of the 6 Hours of Daytona, with the difference that in Sebring there are twelve hours and on a particularly bumpy and bumpy track. For Alfa Romeo, however, defeats followed one another and at Sebring only Vaccarella-Hezemans saved the honor of the Milanese team by taking third place. Not much, too little, but ultimately better than the Lola and the Gulf-Mirage. Ferrari's claim has never been in question. From the first to the last hour, there have always been at least two 312-Ps in the lead, with an equal division of the leadership task between Ickx-Andretti and Regazzoni-Redman, while Peterson-Schenken remained detached from their teammates due to a lack of petrol and a brake failure caused by the collision with a rubber pin, one of those that delimit this anachronistic and outdated track which is said to no longer host the 12 Hours. However, it was not an easy victory. It's fine that Alfa, Lola and Gulf-Mirage played the thankless role of the outsider, however Ferrari also had its problems, with the merit of course of overcoming them brilliantly thanks to its technical and human means. The only exception was the loss of the car of Regazzoni and Redman, a couple as good as they were unfortunate. This was the only tense moment of the final part of the race. In fact, during the race, a battery cable broke. The car could be seen passing with a glimmer of sparks, and Schetty tried to stop the crew for a check. However, on the return lap, Regazzoni felt the engine stop.
"I pulled over to the edge of the track and as I was trying to leave, I saw flames rising from the bonnet. I ran away and the firefighters arrived only after five or six minutes".
The 312-P burned almost completely. Peterson-Schenken took over from Regazzoni-Redman. The Italian American and the Belgian completed their task with a bit of apprehension: a crack had appeared in the engine head cover and a lot of oil was flowing out. Since by regulation it is not possible to stop and fill up every twenty-seven laps, the situation was delicate. Explains engineer Giacomo Caliri, technical manager of this Ferrari sports sector.
"We will have consumed almost fifty liters of lubricant".
For Peterson's car the problem was of a different nature: a blockage in the petrol system which prevented regular fueling of the generous engine. We focus on these inconveniences to explain that regardless of the value of its rivals, Ferrari's claims are deserved. There won't be Stewart, as in Formula 1, or more valid competition at the moment, but winning an endurance race is always difficult and complicated. There must be a solid support at the base. Returning from the United States on Saturday 8 April 1972, in Maranello it felt like being in Monza on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix: people on the roofs and in the trees, fences under attack, traffic jams and crowd enthusiasm. But when Ferrari comes into play anything can happen. And Enzo Ferrari presented his new Fiorano track this morning, which is located a stone's throw from the Maranello factories. Peter Schetty leads one of the victorious 312-Ps of the World Sports Championship on a series of show laps to the admiration and interest of the many guests and spectators present. A presentation that takes place on the level of simplicity and good nature and which was attended by drivers, managers, technicians and friends of Ferrari. Present are Ickx, Regazzoni, Peterson, Schenken, Munari (who should begin the first tests with the 312-P in Fiorano on Monday 10 April 1972), Colombo, Forghieri, Caliri and Ferrari, from the Maranello technical staff; the engineers Righini, Montabone and Sguazzini for Fiat; Humped for Lancia: engineer Rogano, president of CSAI.
Enzo Ferrari, commendatore Bellicardi and engineer Giuseppe Dondo do the honors. The track, promoted by the Modena manufacturer with the collaboration of Shell, Firestone, Marelli and Heuer (the land belonged to Ferrari, with all this it seems that the cost reached a billion lire), is an experimentation and testing facility for racing cars and granturismo, testing and training for the drivers, training for the mechanics and the team. It is not a racetrack in the true sense of the word, since no races will be held there nor spectators will be admitted, however it has all the technical-spectacular characteristics (and something more than the current circuits). The road-type route is 3000 m long, with a width of 8.40 metres, with curved sections for a length of 1660 meters and straight sections for a total of 1339 metres. The curves of some famous European circuits have been reconstructed, such as those of the Gasometer of Monte-Carlo, the Parabolica of Monza and the Tarzan of Zandvoort, and a section with an uphill-descent and a depression in the middle imitates a point on the Nurburgring. The safety aspect is very carefully thought out: the route is oriented towards the sun so as not to dazzle the pilots in the most demanding sections; the roadway is delimited by two continuous white lines; the transversal slope ensures the flow of rainwater; on the sides of the track there are large clearings which eliminate the danger of any going off the road; jumps, pits, plants and fixed obstacles have been eliminated. Clay Regazzoni explains:
"It is a very demanding circuit for men and machines. Gearbox, engine and chassis are put to the test. Only Monte Carlo and Madrid are more strict. However, I would like some faster corners. I think with small changes it would be possible to get one or two".
Adds Schetty, who briefly abandons the role of sports director to take on those of the driver:
"You know, it's a really tiring track. Running in it for an hour means getting very tired. I believe it is one of the safest facilities in the world: a model of its kind".
Today, in the fastest points, the speeds are 260-270 km/h and the average is around 150 km/h. Engineer Mauro Forghieri (who remains Ferrari's technical director while recently there was talk, more or less interestedly, of its downsizing) clarifies what advantages Ferrari hopes to derive from this system, equipped with a television circuit based on eight cameras and with an electronic photocell system (45 stations) which provides lap times, braking partials and every required chronometric combination. Mauro Forghieri says:
"We expect faster and better development of our machines. We will be able to send them to the race circuits with preparation and set-up already completed, gaining a day of testing. The modifications made in the factory can be immediately tested here: you come, examine them and return to the workshop. An exceptional saving of time, men and resources. Diopter, with partial timing, we will be better aware of the circumstances in which a car gains or loses hundredths of a second, and with the TV and related recording system the drivers will be able to examine their behavior, that of their companions and their cars. A kind of slow motion for cars".
Fiorano also includes workshops, garages, management rooms, a garage and a well-equipped guesthouse. Here, at the end of the inauguration of the splendid facility, Enzo Ferrari improvises a biting show with the journalists. A series of back-and-forths that demonstrates how the manufacturer is in good shape, despite his long indisposition this winter. No sensational revelation (in summary, practical confirmation of Forghieri; explanation of the superiority of the 312-P in the World Sports Championship; probable presence of only one crew at the Targa Florio; no to refueling in F1) and a slightly controversial conclusion:
"If I hadn't talked a little, you would have left disappointed".
Disappointed perhaps, because Ferrari always deserves to be listened to, but not disappointed, because Fiorano himself prevented it. After the American races in Buenos Aires, Daytona and Sebring, the World Sports Championship arrives in Europe with the Brands Hatch 1000 km, the circuit full of curves and ups and downs and clicks located thirty kilometers from London, on the road to Dover. Will the story be the same, that is, will Ferrari obtain its fourth victory, or will Alfa Romeo or the British Lola and Gulf-Mlrage manage to interrupt the supremacy of the Maranello cars? It's an important moment for the championship. After Brands Hatch there will be two tests specifically designed to enhance the power qualities of the 12-cylinder boxer mounted on Ferraris: Monza and Spa. Yet another success for the 312-P in England, on a track where other qualities can also count, would almost mean certainly the practical, if not mathematical, assignment of the title to the Maranello team. Alfa Romeo has changed two crews compared to previous races: Elford is with de Adamich, Galli with Marko (an exchange of drivers, therefore); Revson remains with Stommelen. Hezemans (like Vaccarella) remains on foot and consoles himself by joining Merzario, who is taking part in the 1000 km with a two-litre Abarth-Osella. Engineer Carlo Chili, head of Alfa Romeo, also decides to adopt the most powerful engines for the race:
"We are at 440 HP, let's hope that's enough".
However, Ferrari its superiority over every rival. The three 312-Ps will start from the front row, one next to the other, with the prospect of obtaining a fourth consecutive success. The Alfa Romeos do not seem capable of countering the red spiders of Maranello, indeed, if Revson-Stommelen remained behind the Ferrari trio, Elford-de Adamich and Galli-Marko are forced to chase the Lola-Cosworths of Larrousse-Craft and of Bonnier-Wisell and the surprising two-liter Abarth-Osella that a wild Merzario (paired with Hezemans) is expertly exploiting on this circuit full of curves and ups and downs. Ferraris, therefore, seem unattainable. The atmosphere is serene, the cars go very well. On Saturday night we will only work around the 312-P of Peterson and Schenken to try to reduce the oversteer phenomena complained of by the Swede and the Australian. Engineer Caliri says:
"We changed the ratios, going from high gears to shorter ones, and replaced Regazzoni's engine. For the rest, the usual setup operations. This is a circuit that forces shock absorbers and suspensions to work hard. But it's no worse than Sebring, and we did well there for twelve hours".
Peter Schetty adds:
"It seems to me that even on a mixed type track our cars performed very well, at least in these tests".
It is an indirect dig at Alfa Romeo, whose technical director, engineer Carlo Chiti, had repeatedly declared that Ferrari established itself above all for the power of the engine and that on mixed circuits (i.e. with curves and ups and downs and, therefore, which bring other qualities into play in addition to those of pure speed), the 33-TT-3 could have done their part. Of course, anything can happen in competitions, and Alfa could very well assert itself in the race, but certainly the two days of training sensationally contradict Chiti's prediction and hope. The 33-TT-3 are significantly inferior to the 312-P. There is someone who has taken the pleasure of timing partial passages of the Milanese and Modenese cars on a stretch of a thousand meters with a very lively pace. Well, the difference on average was close to the second, naturally in favor of Ferrari. It is logical, at this point, that at Alfa the faces are dark. Chiti admits:
"We didn't think of a difference of this magnitude. Yet, the cars don't have any particular problems, everything is fine and today we mounted the most powerful engines. I don't know, maybe we also have to consider that here our tires aren't proving to be as effective as they should".
There is mention of a compound that is not suitable for Brands Hatch, but, honestly, these seem like good excuses. First the fault of Alfa's defeats was the weight and the special fire tanks, then the Ferrari's too many horsepower, then, generically, bad luck. Now, the tires come out. But hadn't the Milanese company already changed the previous supplier because it was dissatisfied? When things go wrong we hang on to everything. It is human, but perhaps it would be better to first do a calm examination of conscience. Also because on Sunday 16 April 1972, the festive waving of the tricolors brought by groups of Italian fans and the cheerful chorus of horns from the spectators' cars scattered along the edges of the track welcomed Ferrari's success, the fourth in a row in the World Sports Championship and the first in the history of Brands Hatch. Even in this 1000 km, which should have relaunched Alfa Romeo, Lola and Gulf-Mirage, the Maranello team has overcome every obstacle, nor is it clear who, in the more or less near future, will be able to compete as equals on par with the 312-P and their pilots. The title is close, it's just a mathematical question. Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx won. with Peterson-Schenken in second place and Regazzoni-Redman in sixth, held up at the end by a fault in the ignition system which forced them to stop in the pits for about fifteen minutes. It's an order of arrival that you now know by heart. This is the fourth double for Ferrari, the third success for Andretti and Ickx, the third placing for Peterson and Schenken and the third appointment with the misfortune of Regazzoni and Redman. The Swiss pilot admits:
"If there has to be trouble, rest assured it happens to me".
At Brands Hatch Clay was in second place, behind Andretti and ahead of Peterson. He managed to finish the race in sixth place, but his bitterness is equally and fully justified. The sporting director, Peter Schetty, states with a half-smile:
"We just can't bring ourselves to finish line three cars in the parade".
A joke, of course, but Ferrari brought two. with a very cinematic arrival as a couple, and above all offered yet another demonstration of absolute superiority. The Maranello drivers led for 229 out of 235 laps; for six laps one of the two Lola-Cosworth T 280s, that of Wisell-Bonnier, led the race, but only thanks to the supply game.
The 312-P consumes more petrol than the English car - two kilometers per liter - and therefore has to stop first at the garage to refuel, an operation which takes about thirty seconds on average. Ickx summarized the situation well by stating:
"It wasn't a race between Ferrari and the other brands, but a race between us".
The Lola and Gulf-Mirage quickly disappeared from the race. The yellow cars of Larrousse-Craft and Wisell-Bonnier had a brilliant start; that is, they engaged in a good battle with the Alfa Romeo 33-TT-3s behind the Ferraris, but the first was taken out of the way less than an hour after the rear suspension failed and the second lost contact with the 312-Ps due to an unfortunate refueling (the system had been poorly constructed and the petrol did not flow to the tanks from the tank placed in the garage). Then the suspension on this car also broke and the debacle was complete. The Gulf-Mirage was plagued by cooling system problems and failed to qualify among the fourteen cars that entered the standings. And Alfa Romeo? Stommelen and Revson came in third place, De Adamich and Elford in fourth. Galli and Marko in seventh. The 33-TT-3s performed reasonably well. However, Galli's had poor road holding (perhaps a consequence of the blow suffered in practice on Saturday, and in the end he had to replace the brake pads), but they lapped at a pace significantly lower than that of the Ferraris. In the initial stages they lost an average of two seconds per pass. A lot, too much. Revson (who touched Galli without damage in one corner) did well, the others less so. Yet, on this circuit, the Alfas should have done more, at least according to engineer Carlo Chiti's statements.
"It was a wrong assessment. We were inferior to Ferrari, like at Daytona and Sebring. Question of horsepower and tuning. What should we do? Suicide ourselves? We will try to remedy this, for now we can say that we are moderately satisfied with having brought three cars to the finish line".
At 33-TT-3 the quality of reliability returned, but the sprint continues to be lacking. Ferrari has both, as well as a team organization for which Ken Tyrrell himself, Stewart's patron in Formula 1, expresses words of praise. Everything rotates like a well-oiled mechanism, and Caliri, the technical manager of the sports sector, and Schetty after the race have the satisfaction of saying:
"Our cars are strong on all types of circuits, not just the fast ones".
The prospects for Monza, which is indeed a high-speed track, are clear: will they reach five? The Ferrari regime reigns supreme in the championship, while for Alfa Romeo the technical crisis is now a given. On Tuesday 18 April 1972, in a meeting also attended by the president of Alfa Romeo, engineer Giuseppe Luraghi, the decision was made not to participate in the 1000 km of Monza. The news filters through the veil of secrecy and none of the Alfa Romeo managers releases official statements. It is known, however, that the reasons for this renunciation are at least three: the desire not to face the Ferraris on a track with decidedly fast characteristics like that of Monza, created specifically to highlight the power qualities of the victorious 312-Ps, the possibility of prepare the 33-TT-3 calmly for theoretically more favorable tracks, such as those of the Targa Florio and the 1000 km of the Nurburgring. This suggests that the Milanese company also intends to say no to the Spa race and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Furthermore, there is an urgent need to concentrate efforts on the development of the new 12-cylinder boxer, which will run on the test bench in the first days of May. This engine represents the comeback weapon for Alfa Romeo. As is known, Alfa Romeo technicians justify the defeats suffered in the World Sports Championship above all with the lack of HP. Various excuses have been given, but the lack of power is the main one. The current eight-cylinder delivers 440 HP in the most powerful versions. The Ferrari 312-P has 450 of them, with the possibility of much better uses, as reported by the same drivers of the 33-TT-3, who at Brands Hatch saw the rival cars shoot away during acceleration after the tight curves of the English circuit.
If we remember correctly, the hypothesis of renouncing certain races of the World Sports Championship had already been put forward some time ago, in particular after the unfortunate outcome of the 6 Hours of Daytona. Now, the decision adopted by the Milanese managers may not please the fans, but it is not without logic. Indeed, he does very well to try to reduce the gap with Ferrari, admitting, in a certain sense, that the Maranello team is stronger today, without looking for petty excuses. Let's not forget that other brands have opted for this kind of choices. Firstly the French Matra, who did not participate in the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix last year, precisely looking for a technical improvement. Precisely from Enzo Ferrari comes, in a certain sense, a justification for the attitude taken by his rivals. The Maranello team has been informed by its sporting director. Peter Schetty, of the possibility of Alfa Romeo renouncing participation in Monza. His thinking is this: each manufacturer defends its own technical, competitive and commercial interests in the best way; he had to too. In the past, making unpopular decisions. Ferrari also stated that he considers the antagonism with Alfa Romeo out of place. Maranello's commitment is to surpass the records set in 1971 by the 5000 cc Porsches with the three-litre 312-P. Technical evolution - according to Ferrari - must overcome any rivalry. The World Sports Championship, at this point, is originally a private matter for Ferrari. The races risk becoming increasingly monotonous, unless this troubled Alfa Romeo manages to sharpen its weapons for the few races it decides to participate in. We hope that Alfa recovers as soon as possible. Ferrari will also be grateful to him, because asserting yourself by fighting against phantom opponents such as the stopwatch and a car - the Porsche 017-K - that no longer exists does not provide the same thrill as victorious confrontation on the track. If on the one hand Alfa Romeo stops, on the other Ferrari reaps incredible satisfaction. Monza, Sunday 5 September 1971: the Italian Grand Prix ends with the success of B.R.M. of Gethln, the Ferraris of lckx and Regazzoni withdraw and leave the racetrack amidst volleys of whistles, insults and the throwing of bottles: the mechanic who drives the big truck with the two red single-seaters cries. Monza, Sunday 23 April 1972: the 1000 km tests end with a festive assault on the Ferrari garage, amidst applause for the very fast 312-Ps, for the drivers, for the technicians and with the hunt for an autograph.
Seven months have passed. From boos and anger to applause and joy. It happens. The fan, especially the Italian one, has a changeable mood, exaggerate it in displays of nervousness as well as in those of enthusiasm. A passionate man who would always like to see his team win and who, when he loses, cannot excuse it. The hunt begins for the culprit, the alleged perpetrators are put on trial, rapid changes are called for. This can happen for football, but it is less easy for motor racing, where human values can never be separated from technical defects. Now. Ferrari is on the crest for the series of four doubles in the World Sports Championship, while Alfa Romeo is under accusation. A bit of the opposite of last year. It's right? No. Those with short memories don't really care about their colors. On Tuesday 25 April 1972, Ferrari's fantastic winning streak was nearly ended by the venerable Porsche 908.03 of two German amateur drivers. Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni still managed to give the Maranello team their fifth consecutive success, but after moments of suspense, while Peterson-Schenken had to settle for third place behind Jost and Schuller. Redman and Merzario have retired, like the Lolas of Larrousse-De Fierlant and Bonnier-Wisell. An almost incredible 1000 km, with Monza transformed into the seaplane base by pouring rain which changed Ferrari's eventual record plans and compromised the very race of the fast 312-Ps, whose 450 HP were difficult to stop on a slippery road surface and slippery, dotted with treacherous puddles. A time-trap, for which the drivers of the Maranello team paid the price, Ickx and Regazzoni, apart from a few thrilling skids, managed to keep their car unscathed (the alternator failure which took away the Belgian and the Swiss many minutes is independent of weather conditions) but Redman and Peterson both ended up off the track at the Ascari curve, where streams of water flowed from the clogged manholes. And thank goodness that at least Peterson was able to continue. At a certain point, Jost-Schuller's Porsche and two De Tomaso-Pantera granturismos took the lead, so much so that Ickx and Regazzoni had to engage in a tight chase to re-establish at the racetrack that Ferrari supremacy seen in Buenos Aires, Daytona Sebring and Brands Hatch. It is a race that is irrelevant and which probably would have been better not to take place.
In this sense - interpreted by Peter Schetty, Ferrari sporting director, and Joaquim Bonnier, head of the GPDA - there was a lot of pressure from the drivers, worried about the grip conditions of the surface and the poor visibility, especially when overtaking. But the race management considered that the situation was not so bad as to prevent men and machines from taking to the track. And so we competed anyway, with a series of off-track collisions and collisions which fortunately did not have a tragic outcome. Is it okay to risk so much? With the unspectacular result of seeing only seven cars at the finish line and seeing that Ickx-Regazzoni's hourly average is only 170 km/h. A 1000 Km to forget, even if Ferrari still has two satisfactions left: first, of having been able to face a delicate and adverse situation, demonstrating that it possessed the most valid technical and human means; second, that with this success I reached one hundred in the World Championship, so much so that the other races were practically useless. Competitions in which Ferrari will still be present, with three cars in the next round at Spa and with only one in the following one at the Targa Florio, where it will have to face the returning 33-TT-3 Alfa Romeos. In this regard, it is appropriate to say that whoever is absent loses from the start. Alfa Romeo missed a good opportunity to steal a statement from Ferrari. The Milanese company was not defeated, agreed, but it did not win either. And perhaps the men of the Maranello team are happy that the 33-TT-3 were in Vallelunga to improve, and not in the rain of Monza.
Once upon a time it was Monte-Carlo's turn to open the European Grands Prix season. Elegant setting, beautiful women, sandwiches moored in the port. This honor has been held by Spain since 1968: one year in Barcelona and one year in Madrid. In both cases these are tortuous, not very fast circuits, which enhance the skill of the driver and the handling of the car. In 1971 we witnessed an epic duel between Stewart and lckx on the Montjutch hill, will the same happen on Monday 1 May 1972 at Jarama, the small unadorned racetrack about twenty kilometers from the Spanish capital? It's too early to tell. The Argentine and South African Grands Prix suggest that Stewart and Tyrrell will be the team to beat again this year. The Scotsman won in Buenos Aires and retired in Kyalami while he was leading, leaving the way clear for Hulme and the McLaren (a McLaren in good shape, as always happens at the start of the season, when the commitments for the Can-Am are relatively far away and there is more time for Formula 1). Thank goodness, because another success for Stewart would have risked immediately plunging the championship into monotony. The Scotsman doesn't want to make any predictions in this regard. He smiles, squints, says that his Tyrrell is always strong, that Fittipaldi and JPS-Lotus is a dangerous rival, that the Ferraris are a bit of a mystery. Usual jokes. Stewart would like to digress on the Jarama circuit, which has undergone some adjustments to allow the number of starters to be increased to 25. Jackie doesn't like this track.
"In the first laps, when we are all in a group, the possibility of an accident is high. Overtaking is difficult, in practice it is only possible to overtake another car at the end of the grandstand straight".
An antipathy that may have been reinvigorated by cut's off-track exit Stewart was the protagonist last week in the tire tests carried out at Jarama by Goodyear. Stewart mentions the Ferrari mystery. 1971 ended amid controversies, 1972 brought more, or rather, always the same ones: but what does this blessed 312-B2 have and why doesn't it win like the three-litre sport 312-P which uses the same 12-cylinder boxer ? This single-seater was put on a bad slope last year by unfortunate technical choices: the Maranello team tried to remedy this in the winter, with changes to the much-discussed rear suspension and aerodynamics. In Argentina the race went poorly, and decidedly badly in South Africa due to an inexplicable drop in power in the engines of Ickx, Regazzoni and Andretti.
"It's a car that still needs to improve".
The drivers say they would like to repeat the repeated successes of the World Sports Championship in Formula 1.
The problem of the tires is still mentioned, weight distribution is talked about, there is doubt that all the horsepower of the powerful engine will be released to the ground. Perhaps it is better to let the Ferrari technicians (and here there is also the engineer Sandro Colombo, responsible for sports management, while Mauro Forghieri dedicates himself with more commitment to the design sector) work in peace, whatever the outcome of this Spanish Grand Prix. Now everyone is waiting, like the Maranello team, forced to postpone the construction of the B3 while awaiting the CSL's decisions on safety. Almost all manufacturers have avoided embarking on new paths, limiting themselves to updating the old models in a more or less significant way. The fight between the eight and twelve cylinders continues, with further increases for the Ford-Cosworth, although modifications to the valves and crankshaft should have brought 10-20 HP more. We are therefore talking about 460-470 HP against the 480 HP of the Ferrari, the 460 HP of the Matra and the 450 HP of the B.R.M.. Generic progress can be seen in the aerodynamics sector: the designers have realized that huge gains in performance are possible by solving the problems connected to the progress of the single-seaters in the air. At Jarama there are nine different single-seaters, three with their own engines and six with Cosworths, and a dozen teams. A good crowd, favored by the links between Formula 1 and companies eager to create a young and modern advertising image. Cigarettes, tea, cosmetics, toys, perfumes, caravans, ceramics: everything goes by at 300 km/h in a whirlwind of colors. The Spanish event is the first World Championship Grand Prix on the European continent for 1972, and it is the turn of the artificial Jarama circuit, north of Madrid, to play host to the country’s major race, it being run last year at Barcelona. Time is a great healer, for two years ago when the Spanish GP was held at Jarama the whole affair was a bit of an organizational farce and afterwards everyone stormed off saying never again. Fortunately the organization has learn from their mistakes and this year the race runs as smoothly as the previous one has been turbulent. In order to coincide with a national holiday, in the hope of attracting larger crowds the race is to be held on Monday, May 1st, so practice is arranged for the previous Saturday and Sunday, from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. on both days. Surprisingly, there are no grumbles from the teams or demands for more practice, probably because they have all had a good slog round before the Saturday official session.
Your time depend on how fast you enter the straight past the pits, what speed you attain down the hill onto the straight, and how brave you are in braking for the sharp right-hand bend at the end. The rest of this twisty little artificial circuit, is all stop-and-go and not much of a test of a real Grand Prix driver or much of a challenge to their skill, and to listen to some of today’s top drivers you get the impression that the last thing they want is a challenge to their ability; you are supposed to accept that because they are in a Formula One car they have inordinate skill and ability and you should not ask them to prove it. With a lap speed of just over 95 m.p.h., the Jarama circuit is not exactly a circuit to prove the ability of a great Grand Prix driver. With only two hours in which to put in a good lap in the 1'20"0 bracket, nobody wastes any time in getting under way on Saturday and the pits are somewhat chaotic with cars dashing in and out, lucky drivers swopping from one car to a spare one, waves of advertising men bouncing up and down with sponsor’s troupes of colorful dolly-birds, cars being wheeled off for repair, others being wheeled in for action, everyone trying to time their own driver as well as the opposition, and all the fun of the fair and the merry-go-round. The only thing missing is a performing monkey. Meanwhile the very efficient timekeepers are logging the whole affair and when the pandemonium dies down they produce some revealing figures. Emerson Fittipaldi, as distinct from Wilson Fittipaldi, is the only driver to get below 1'20"0, with a time of 1'19"79, his nearest rival being Stewart with 1'20"27 which he records in Tyrrell 004, the newest of the timber-merchant’s cars. Fittipaldi does a total of 38 laps in his black and gold Lotus, while Stewart does 28 laps in each of his cars, wasting no time in getting back in the swing of things, not having raced since the South African GP back in March. An interesting fact is that Andretti does only 5 laps in his Ferrari before the engine blows up yet he records a best lap of 1'21"84, whereas most people do around 30 laps of practice and not many are faster than the Italian-American driver. The record for practice must surely have gone to Ecclestone’s Brabham team, for Hill does 44 laps in the new BT37 and Wilson Fittipaldi does 49 laps in the old BT33, so neither of them experienced much trouble, for there just is not time for any.
The March works team are the complete reverse and the new 721X cars are being very tiresome, Lauda’s new gear-change mechanism giving the mechanics headaches, and Beuttler’s experimental 721G is nothing like race-worthy. With twenty-six drivers thrashing round the two hours of practice pass incredibly quickly but it does mean plenty of time for repairs, renovation or preparation for the next official session at the same time on Sunday. With the excellent pits arrangement whereby each pit is its own self-contained garage and workshop, the teams merely have to close up the pit-counter shutters at the end of practice and get on with their work without moving any tools or equipment, an arrangement that other circuit builders can well copy. At midday on Sunday, the Ring Master gives the signal and the merry-go-round starts up again, faster and more furiously than before, for this is the last opportunity to get a good position on the starting grid. At one time it is a matter of personal pride for a top driver to be on pole position on the grid, but today one gets the impression that the main reason is to get the sponsor’s name or color scheme to the forefront of any starting-line photographs that might be published. During the opening hour, Hulme and Andretti seem to throw caution to the winds and have a little private dust-up that is enjoyable to watch, and the Ferrari team are trying old-fashioned type narrow nose cowlings in place of this year’s full-width Tyrrell-type cowlings. Fittipaldi is looking impressively smooth and unhurried, yet consistently under 1'20"0, and seems to be getting the best out of the Lotus 72, which is still the most stable-looking of today’s cars when driven properly. Unfortunately, his practice comes to a sudden stop when the Cosworth engine brakes, so Walker is taken out of the second Lotus 72 and Fittipaldi continues practice in it, running under Walker’s number of 21 instead of his own number 5, the timekeepers being informed and noting the fact to avoid any confusion. During his practice in 72/R5 Fittipaldi comes in for a practice wheel change of all four wheels, the John Player Team Lotus mechanics doing the whole thing at speed as if during the race. It is interesting to see two mechanics loosen the front hub nuts, then each grasp a wishbone and lift the whole front of the car into the air while Team Manager Peter Warr slides a small stand under the car onto which they lower it.
After changing the wheels they pick the car up again and he takes the stand out. Meanwhile mechanics at the rear are using a conventional quick-lift lever-type jack. The whole operation takes 1'35"0, more than a lap lost, had they been racing, which gives food for thought. The objection to using quick-lift lever jacks at both ends is that such jacks need to pull the car towards the operator as it is lifted up, and if you get a jack at each end pulling simultaneously you get check-mate. If you get them unsynchronized, the car rocks backwards and forwards and has been known to fall off the static jack. There is still a lot of development work to do in lifting up the modern Grand Prix car with its multitude of tubes and rods in the suspension area that cannot be used to take the weight of the car. Another thing that this Lotus demonstration shows up, is that the wide alloy wheels with peg-drive are not easy to slot in place quickly and first-time. Chapman is preparing for possible weather changes in the race, rather than tyre wear, for the clear blue sunny skies of the middle of Spain have given way to grey skies and cold winds and the weather forecast for race day is not good. Just as the day before Fittipaldi has been the only one to get below 1'20"0, today Ickx puts himself at the top by being the only one to get below 1'19"0, with a fastest lap of 1'18"43, doing 32 laps of practice in achieving it, having done 31 the day before. Hulme, Fittipaldi, Stewart, Andretti, Amon, Beltoise, Regazzoni, Peterson and Wisell all get below 1'20"0, and Revson with 1'20"11 undoubtedly would have joined them had the Cosworth engine in his McLaren not consistently hesitated every time he opens the throttles wide. Hailwood and Schenken in the works Surtees cars are very unhappy as their cars seem to want to spin the inside rear wheels on leaving the numerous sharp corners, while de Adamich is beaming happily through his spectacles for his private Surtees is giving no trouble at all and he is lapping faster than the works team. With John Surtees away in Japan, ostensibly for the purpose of winning the Japanese GP, there is an unhappy greyness about the Surtees pits. In this session Stewart puts in only 21 laps in 003 and 20 in 004, content with fourth fastest time and a position on the second row of the grid alongside Andretti; his team-mate Cevert is not smiling his usual radiant smile, for he is way down in row 5 of the grid.
Peterson is only just ahead of Cevert, and alongside his fellow Swedish-ace Wisell, who is driving for B.R.M. in place of Marko who is in Italy having a go in B.R.M.’s Cam-Am cum Interserie car at Imola. Peterson does a few laps in Lauda’s 721 X March, but the Bicester firm are not bubbling over with confidence, whereas the McLaren team look extremely confident and quiet about the whole thing. Hulme has gone very quickly in the 1972 car, M 19C/1, but towards the end of practice he takes out last year’s car M19A/1 and goes even faster, deciding to use it for the race. Amon is in amongst the aces with the works V12 Matra, its exhaust note still being one of the best things that has ever happened in motor racing. Whereas Fittipaldi is fast and looked slow in the Lotus 72, Amon is fast and looked fast in the Matra, the French car appearing to keep him unduly busy, the nose rising and falling alarmingly under acceleration and braking, and there is a lot of that at Jarama. It is braking that appears to be worrying Gethin more than anything else with the P180 B.R.M., it looking very unstable on some corners. Beltoise does a mere handful of slow laps in his P180, putting all his efforts into the 1971 P160. Graham Hill is well and truly beaten in the endurance stakes, doing a mere 45 laps in the two hours, as both Revson and Cevert cover 47 laps each and Wilson Fittipaldi runs him close with 44 laps, so that the Ecclestone team of Brabhams still hold the distance and reliability record for a two-car team even if they do not break any lap records, the two drivers amassing 182 laps between them in the two days. By sheer weight of numbers the B.R.M. drivers, with six cars, amass 288 laps of practice between them, the result of it all being one car in the middle of the third row of the grid, one in the fourth and the rest down at the back.
Lotus achieve one car on the from row and one car on the back row for a total of only 118 laps, and Ferrari achieve the best result with one car on the front row in pole position, one on the second row and one on the third row, for a total of 168 laps. Taken all round, practice is very tidy and orderly, no one doing anything desperate or heroic and on the Sunday quite a lot of spectators turn up to watch the activities. The result of it all is that of the 26 drivers taking part all but Lauda and Beuttler improve on the existing lap record set up in 1970 by Jack Brabham, in 1'24"3 and the same 24 are all faster than the fastest practice lap of that year, which is 1'23"9, also by Brabham, so that something has been achieved in the past two years, even if it is only tyre development. At 1'25"48 Beuttler is deemed too slow to be allowed to start, so the brand new March 721G is loaded onto its trailer and covered over. In actual fact the fuel system is still presenting problems and the car is nothing like ready to race. Ferrari goes from worry to hope. The excessively oversteering behavior of the single-seaters of Ickx, Andrettl and Regazzoni was contained with changes to the wings and rear suspension, and in the second test session for the Spanish Grand Prix, the three drivers were able to improve their performances. The Belgian, with the help of tires with a very soft compound (grippier), was the fastest of the twenty-six riders who took to the track. This means that lckx will start from the front row, with Hulme and Fittipaldi. Not bad, especially on this narrow and twisty Jarama circuit, where overtaking is a challenge. In this regard, Ickx, reiterating a concept already expressed by Stewart, says:
"Practically, it is only possible to overtake another car at the end of the grandstand straight. This complicates the race a lot".
The Belgian is happy.
"The car runs better; she is now stable and balanced. Woe betide if it weren't like this: this is a tough circuit, which doesn't leave you a moment's breathing space. You are always attached to the steering wheel or gearbox. I calculated that I have to make gear changes per lap, going from second to fifth and from a minimum of around 100 km/h to a maximum of 260-270 km/h. You are always at the limit of your own and your car's possibilities and on the straight, where you could have a moment to breathe, you have to prepare for overtaking".
Hulme had said that at Jarama it was not possible to lap in less than 1'19"0. How did lckx manage to prove the New Zealander wrong?
"I made a series of good passes and, in the record lap, I only had to overtake once. I had tires with characteristics suitable for the track and the ambient temperature: it was a decisive help".
Saturday was overcast and cold, with even a quick sprinkle of rain. Sun and heat could alter the balance on Sunday. That of rubber has become an art for alchemists, which is expressed through compounds of many different gradations, with a multitude of acronyms for initiates. The same Firestone and Goodyear specialists have booklets full of instructions in their pockets to help them find their way around. On the other hand, it is known that it is possible to record differences of 0.5s per lap between the best tires of different brands and differences of 1-2 seconds with each development of a tire, other things being equal. Among the best Formula One drivers and those of average level, variations due to driving skill are estimated to be in the order of 0.5s per lap. It is interesting to note that in just over a second there are eleven cars gathered at the Jarama. A promise of battle involving Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, Tyrrell, Matra-Simca, B.R.M. and March, that is to say all the brands present at the Spagini Grand Prix, except for the Surtees and Brabham. And Ickx, intact, adds:
"I won't have a particularly dangerous opponent, they are all dangerous. You're spoiled for choice: Hulme, Stewart. Pittipaldi…".
The Belgian is calm, not at all impressed by returning to race on that track where in 1970 he risked dying in the fire of his Ferrari rammed by B.R.M. by Oliver.
"An accident doesn't happen twice in the same place".
Monday morning dawns depressingly wet and cold, but the rain soon stops and by mid-morning the Jarama circuit is drying rapidly, aided by a strong wind blowing from the snow-capped Sierra de Guadarrama, to the north-west of the circuit, this wind being icy cold and freezing the occupants of the grandstands along the main straight opposite the pits. The start is due to take place at 12 noon and the race length was 90 laps of the 3.4-kilometre (2.12-mile) circuit. Everyone is allowed some warm-up laps to see the condition of the circuit, during which time all vestiges of damp disappear from the track and the twenty-five cars are lined up on the dummy-grid ready to race under dry conditions, though there is a bit of a flutter in the tyre department when a few spots of rain start to fall, but nothing develops. The whole field moves forward to the starting grid and as the Spanish flag is lowered everyone gets away. Lowered is the operative word, for the race director brings the flag down in a slow steady movement and most drivers expect it to flash down. Not so Hulme, who is gone from the center of the front row at the first ripple of the starter’s muscles, while Ickx and Fittipaldi wait until they see some definite movement of the flag. The lead that Hulme’s McLaren has going into the first corner takes most people by surprise and all eyes are on this incredible start so that few see the red STP-March of Peterson swoop to the outside of the track, get into difficulties on the edge, rush back into the pack and bounce off Beltoise’s B.R.M., pushing the March nose cowling down at the right-front corner. Undeterred, Peterson continues in the rush to the first corner, promptly spins and causes an almighty dodging act amongst the tail-enders, during which Hill’s Brabham is punted to the side where the engine stalls. No one is damaged and Peterson soon carries on his way, next to last, and Hill finally joins in in last place. Meanwhile, up at the front where it matters, Hulme is out in the lead, followed by Stewart, Regazzoni, Ickx, Emerson Fittipaldi, Andretti, Beltoise and Wisell, the rest being more or less in an orderly procession. Hulme’s superstart gets everyone switched on pretty quickly and he soon has a trio bearing down on him, in the order Stewart, Ickx and Fittipaldi. These three close up on the McLaren as one and passing the pits starting lap five Stewart goes by into the lead. At the end of the next lap Stewart still leads, but Hulme, Ickx and Fittipaldi are in a tight bunch and as they reach the corner at the end of the straight they are about to lap Hill’s Brabham. Stewart’s Tyrrell has already gone by Hill, so he knows the others are about to arrive and he keeps well over to the right, out of the way but the presence of the white Brabham in their line for the corner causes a bit of dodging and quick decision making on the part of the battling trio.
In the sort of manoeuvre that Jimmy Clark would have reveled in, Fittipaldi shoots his black and gold Lotus 72 through on the inside of everything and comes out of the corner leading the group and in second place behind the fleeing Stewart. On the next lap on this same corner the Spaniard Soler-Roig goes off the road in his B.R.M., only the Spanish being concerned, as there are more interesting things happening up at the front of the race. With no one around him Fittipaldi closes up on Stewart at an absurd pace, even while the TV commentators are making platitudes about Stewart pulling out a commanding lead, just as he did so often last year. He actually leads for a mere four laps, because then Fittipaldi goes by the Tyrrell under braking at the end of the straight as if he is passing a back-marker, and it is then all over, he just draws away smoothly and relentlessly in a manner that brings a smile to Colin Chapman’s face and makes up for all the troubles of the past two seasons. On lap 15 Ickx takes his Ferrari past Stewart and things settle down a bit in the order Fittipaldi (Lotus), Ickx (Ferrari), Stewart (Tyrrell), Hulme (McLaren), Andretti (Ferrari), Regazzoni (Ferrari), Amon (Matra) and a big surprise, de Adamich (Surtees), the bespectacled Italian going extremely well, and not only holding eighth place behind all the works stars, but keeping up with him, so that there is quite a gap before the rest of the runners arrive, led Wilson Fittipaldi and Hailwood. The gear-change on the B.R.M. of Beltoise is giving trouble, and he has gone to the pits and the limited-slip mechanism in Lauda’s March differential does not seem to be able to make up its mind when to slip and when to limit and he decides he can’t drive the car properly, so gives up, aided by an accelerator pedal that is becoming sticky in its movement. Wisell’s B.R.M. is also in the pits by this time and just after Ickx has taken second place from Stewart, the second works March is withdrawn as Peterson has passed seven of the back-markers but the strain has taken the edge off his Cosworth engine and in addition there is a fuel leak and the handling has been put out a bit in the initial bumping and boring. Andretti overtakes Hulme and it looks as though we might he going to see the USAC driver fulfill some of the promise he has shown for so long in Europe, but it is not to he, for his Ferrari engine brakes soon after taking fourth place and he is out.
Hailwood disappears into the pits with an electrical fault and a deflating tyre and Ganley also visits his mechanics to enlist their help in trying to make his B.R.M. engine run properly. While all this is going on Fittipaldi is building up the lead that Stewart is supposed to be going to do, it opens up to more than five seconds over the Ferrari of Ickx, while Stewart is not really keeping with them. After 25 laps, a slight sprinkling of rain begins, not enough to make anyone dash to the pits or rain tyres, but sufficient to make everyone tread very warily on their slick dry-weather tyres. Although the leading Lotus and the second place Ferrari are both running on Firestone tyres, they are using lightly different types, those on the Ferrari giving Ickx a slight advantage in this light shower of rain and he wastes no time in closing right up on the Lotus and at 30 laps the two cars are nose-to-tail, although Ickx never looks as if he is going to attempt to pass, and Fittipaldi does not look as though he is going to let him try. They are lapping the slower cars and Fittipaldi nips by the second black and gold Anus 72, driven by Walker just before the tight wiggly section behind he pits, so that Ickx loses a bit of ground awaiting his opportunity to lap Walker. The rain does not develop and the icy wind soon dries what little there has been, so the situation returns to square one and Fittipaldi goes on building up a secure lead. Beltoise gives up the unequal struggle with his troublesome gearbox, Wisell has crashed his BRM, and Stommelen has gone off the road with the Eifelland-March. Just before half-distance, with Fittipaldi comfortably ahead of Ickx, Stewart some way back in third place and seemingly content to stay there, Hulme goes by on lap 42 in fourth place, obviously in fourth gear when he should have been in fifth gear. The large roller-baring behind the final-drive pinion is breaking up in his Hewland gearbox, and this is letting the pinion move out of mesh with the crown wheel, chewing up the teeth on the pinion as it tries to move away. In turn this is allowing the gearbox mainshaft to move back so that Hulme is finding he can only select those gears obtained by moving the gear-lever forwards, i.e. second and fourth, while third and fifth would not engage. He struggles on, losing ground, but maintaining fourth place ahead of Regazzoni’s Ferrari, but on lap 48 he stops before everything falls out in the road, the gearbox casing being very hot, and that is the end of his race.
A similar trouble is affecting the Hewland gearbox on the Matra, and Amon has dropped back from sixth place and is going slower and slower, to finally retire at 66 laps. All this lets Regazzoni into fourth place, de Adamich into fifth and Cevert sixth, but the young Frenchman begins to get into the groove and he catches and passes the private Surtees driver. This lid not last long for the Tyrrell has a deflating front tyre and Cevert stops to have it changed, but a few laps later he is back again with a rough-running engine. The back-markers who have been chasing round trying to keep up with the pace set by the leaders are now beginning to get together in a serious race of their own and in their efforts are closing up on de Adamich, so that he has a line of cars in his mirrors Comprising the McLaren of Revson, the Williams-March of Pace, the Brabham of Wilson Fittipaldi, the Surtees of Schenken and the Lotus of Walker, but he remains unruffled and keeps ahead of them all, though he has been lapped by the leaders. Emerson Fittipaldi starts the last third of the race with a nine second lead over Ickx, whose Ferrari’s tyres are now deteriorating and preventing him from doing any last-minute heroics, but unbeknown to him or his pit staff, Fittipaldi is also in trouble. Before the start, on the reconnaissance laps the Lotus has started leaking petrol from a supplementary fuel tank that is being used as a safeguard. The main tanks should have got the Lotus through the race, but just in case of emergency and to play safe, both cars are carrying an extra four gallons. Only minutes before the start Fittipaldi has had to have his safeguard drained and blanked off, so that he starts the race knowing he is cutting things fine. During the closing stages the Lotus pit are prepared for an emergency stop but they reckon without Fittipaldi’s calm and shrewd approach to motor racing. Once he is certain that Ickx is not gaining on him anymore, he begins to conserve petrol by not using peak r.p.m. when accelerating and by taking corners in a gear higher than he has been doing when building up his lead. In spite of this he is still gaining fractions of a second a lap over the Ferrari, which are soon mounting up, but undoubtedly, if Ickx has been aware of the situation, he would have thrown caution to the winds and put pressure on, thus making the Lotus use more fuel.
As the race settles into this final stage the Tyrrell team are looking at Cevert’s car in the pits, disconsolately keeping Stewart informed that he is in an unimpressive third place, when the reigning World Champion driver is seen to be heading for the pit lane with no nose cowling on the front of his Tyrrell. Almost before he has come to rest, his mechanics have got a spare cowling from the pit and are fitting it, but the Scot is making no signs of rejoining the race and Tyrrell finds himself surrounded by abandoned cars, a most unusual situation for the royal blue ELF team. It is given out that Stewarea radiator is damaged, for he has spun off the track and hit the barriers, so this lets Regazzoni into third place, even though he is just being lapped by the leading Lotus and his Ferrari team-mate. As the race runs to a close Fittipaldi comes up to lap the tail of the tail-enders yet again, which rather disturbs their formation, leaving Revson and Pace still hounding de Adamich, with Walker leading Wilson Fittipaldi and Schenken. Hill and Pescarolo are still running but not in with this bunch. With fingers cross and pussyfooting along, yet still gaining ground, Fittipaldi comes home to a well-deserved victory, much to the joy of Colin Chapman and the John Player/Team Lotus team. Ironically, and sadly, as Walker is finishing his eighty-eighth lap, just two laps behind his Brazilian team-leader, his Lotus coughs and dies, completely out of petrol. Even though he is carrying the extra four gallons, his engine has been using more fuel, whereas the winning car that should have run out does the full 90 laps, thanks to Fittipaldi’s intelligent driving, which gets him home nearly 20 seconds ahead of Ickx, the Belgian driver having the consolation of setting a new lap record of 1'20"01. Jackie Stewart and Tyrrell's throne is tottering. The Scotsman had dominated the Formula 1 World Championship in 1971, winning six out of eleven Grands Prix and his teammate Cevert had effectively supported him with one success and two second places. This year, Stewart established himself in the first race of the season, in Argentina, giving the illusion of being able to continue the golden streak; instead, Jackie has known the bitterness of retirement in South Africa and now in Spain. Cevert achieved a ninth place in Kyalami, and that was it, so much so that he is not included in the current title standings. For many riders and for many brands it is time for a long-awaited revenge.
"You see he wasn't unbeatable".
In fact, it seems that something has broken in the harmonious balance of factors that had brought Stewart to the top of Formula 1 last year. But let's not forget, this is a sector that is so exasperated in all its components that it can be caused in a very short time real revolutions. In Africa Stewart had broken the gearbox, in Spain on the tortuous Jarama circuit he went off the track while he was in third position, now separated from Emerson Fittipaldi's JPS Lotus-Ford and Jacky Jckx's Ferrari 312-B2. A rookie mistake or a defect in the car (there is mention of a sudden failure of a shock absorber)? Andrea de Adamich, brilliant fourth with Surtees, provides this explanation:
"I was behind Stewart, who had passed me, and I came to the bend where Jackie had hit a guardrail moments later. The asphalt was slippery, covered in oil. Even I, who had slowed down considerably when I saw the yellow danger flags waved by the signalmen, risked skidding".
The next Monaco Grand Prix will be the proof of the truth: a success for Stewart - who was unable to find the right tires at Jarama - would stop the negative considerations, a new defeat would fuel criticism and, naturally, the hopes of his rivals. In any case, a positive fact is the uncertainty that reigns in the current championship, well summarized by Clay Regazzoni, who, scrolling through the World Championship rankings, comments with a satisfied smile:
"It's a title we can all still win".
It is clear that at this moment the most dangerous men for Stewart are those of Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren. In Spain they disappointed the B.R.M. (four cars, none of them reached the finish line due to gearbox problems and engine failures), the new March 721-Xs (says Peterson: “They are quite difficult to drive”), the Brabhams, the Matra-Simcas, the March-Eifelland and the Surtees themselves, who however were saved thanks to de Adamich's exploits. That leaves, therefore, Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren, that is Emerson Fittipaldi, Jacky lckx, Clay Regazzoni and Mario Andretti and Denny Hulme. Lotus reappeared on the scene after a year and a half: its last success dates back to 19711 (United States, Fittipaldi). Technical and financial problems troubled Colin Chapman's brand after Rindt's death; now, as Fittipaldi's statements in invalid matches also indicate, the bad crisis is over. At Jarama, the Brazilian's black-gold single-seater was the one with the best set-up: really glued to the very undulating Spanish track. And to think that Fittipaldi almost lost the duel with lckx: in the reconnaissance laps before the start, one of the petrol tanks broke, so much so that Emerson had to change his soaked suit. Chapman had to exclude the delectable container, inserting a smaller one as a reserve. Would this full tank have been enough for the car to cover the 90 laps of the race? For the driver and the technician the nightmare dissolved only at the finish line. For Ferrari it was a happy day. It wasn't a bitter defeat, in fact lckx's second place and Regazzoni's third should be considered as a springboard for Monte-Carlo. The 312-B2 is on the road to recovery. All three drivers found the car significantly improved compared to Argentina and South Africa thanks to the series of changes introduced in these two months (movement of the rear wing and oil tank, weight reduction from 5S0 to approximately 560 kg) and to a more accurate setup. Says Jacky Ickx:
"In Monte-Carlo I think I can contribute even better in this attack on Stewart".
Perhaps, only the different type of tires used by Lotus and Ferrari gave Fittipaldi success. The brand was the same, the tires were smooth (i.e. without the tread pattern, which now characterizes rain tyres), but the compound was different: the Ferrari's was softer and therefore performed better in low temperatures (10-15° C) and a fresh track, harder than the Lotus one and therefore more effective with higher temperatures and dry asphalt. Time proved the English right, but Ferrari, under the guidance of engineer Sandro Colombo, will appear on the streets of the small Monegasque Principality in the leading role.